Notation Project #1: Recreate a Score

One of the best ways to learn music notation is to recreate a piece of music. In order to do so, you need to grasp all of the fundamentals of document set-up, and note entry, in addition to the basics of part and page formatting. The primary objective for this assignment is to foster fluency in music notation software by providing learners with a “real world” example of how to apply these skills within the framework of being a practicing music teacher. By recreating an existing piece of music from scratch, learners should successfully move through knowledge and comprehension to application within Bloom’s Taxonomy of Skills.

A very basic project could include recreating a one page score that like the one below, which would requires learners to be able to understand the following concepts and skills:

  • Document set up & manipulation
  • Adding & changing instruments
  • Note entry & articulations
  • System text & expressions
  • Dynamics & special markings

Extension of Skill: Part from Score

Once learners have mastered the fundamentals of set-up, note entry, and formatting, they may move on to creating an extended version of the same piece. This second version of the piece, which can be found here scaffolds learners to the next logical steps in music notation, including:

  • Adding & inserting measures
  • Changing & customizing time & time signatures
  • Beaming & note grouping
  • Creating harmony & layers
  • Barlines & rehearsal marks

Another extension of this project could include providing students with a full score where learners generate and format one part with all of the appropriate markings and notations, as if it were never lost. Ideally, the part would provide a number of challenges that learners would need to overcome, similar to the projects above. One example that provides plenty of challenges is the Oboe Part from Robert Spittal’s Pacem:

Further Extension: Backwards Design

One final extension is for students to create an original piece of music on their own that satisfies he following criteria:

  • At least 16 measure in length.
  • Examples of harmonized lines & divisi parts.
  • Multiple time signatures with customized note grouping.
  • At least one key change & all parts in a transposed score.
  • Dynamic markings through system expressions, crescendi, and decrescendi.
  • Title, subtitle, composer name, metronome & tempo marking, & system text.
  • Submitted as a pdf that looks professional the page, with the appropriate formatting that obviates collisions and visual clutter.

By taking a backwards design approach, it allows learners to “begin with the end in mind” and focus on using skills for creating, rather than simply applying them. In Understanding by Design, Wiggins and McTighe argue that backward design focuses instruction on student learning and understanding, rather than just content knowledge.

Instructional Videos

Each of these skills are covered through the following instructional videos covering document set-up, note entry, & formatting. Once you have completed these projects, you should be well versed in the skills you would need to create beautiful, professional looking scores in Sibelius. A number of shortcut keys are provided in the videos below, but you can also find a great list here.

Document Set-up

The following video walks you through the document wizard to set up a piece to look great from the start by adding titles, composer names, tempo markings, pick-ups, not to mention the correct instruments, time signature, and key:

Note Entry

In this video, we will be covering the basics of music notation including Note entry, Articulations, Dynamics, Slurs, Ties, Triplets, & some helpful Shortcuts:


This final video covers some of the formatting basics such as transposing, special text, hiding objects, page breaks & system breaks, grouping measures, changing key & time signatures, editing barlines, adding rehearsal marks, and finally how to change beam & note groupings:

Next Steps

With the skills covered in these projects and instructional videos, you should be more than ready to begin creating your own music with Sibelius. If you would prefer to use a different notation software, the above projects will still provide an excellent framework for getting up and running. If you are interested in expanding your music notation skills even further consider completing the projects under transforming a score on the next page.

Additional Resources


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